Drought is a condition described as a lack of rainfall over an extended period of time. Drought can also be a condition of minimal or less than average rainfall over an extended period of time. This can result in serious consequences socially, economically, and even for the ecosystem. Drought is fast becoming a natural phenomenon in parts of East and South Africa. There are many causes of drought in Africa, there is a need to know the causes in order for us to come up with probable solutions and prevention plans.
Drought can happen anywhere, but it seems that Africa has been the hardest hit by this natural disaster. And as such, it is Africa that has suffered the most brutal effects of drought, turning much of the land into deserts, and grinding agriculture, and other economic activities to a halt.
In this post, we want to highlight some of the causes and effects of drought, with our focus being on Africa. Join us now as we review the top causes of drought in Africa.
Top 10 Causes Of Drought In Africa
Reduced moisture in the atmosphere can result in less than average rainfall. Even though in this case there may still be some rainfall, there may not be enough to sustain life. As it happened in Namibia a few years ago the lack of rainfall caused the death of much of the wildlife, as the drought killed the grasses, it greatly depleted the grazing animals that depend on it for survival.
El Ninos are a natural phenomenon that has been observed in Southern Africa, as well as in other places. They typically include high air pressure in the western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern pacific. El Ninos typically occur within 4-year cycles, although they have also been noted to occur within 3 to 7 years cycles as well.
With the high air pressure on one side and low air pressure on the other side, a vacuum is created in the middle. That vacuum receives very little precipitation, and so drought occurs.
Sometimes, there can be long periods of high air pressure, with the result that moisture-laden air is blown farther inland, thereby bypassing some areas or expanse of land. As those areas are deprived of water, the plant and animal life suffer. The drought is a natural phenomenon, not caused by any form of human activity.
Deforestation is also a major cause of drought in Africa, caused by human activity. This happens when trees are cut down, therefore making the land barren. This can cause droughts in two ways:
A: when the trees are cut, they can no longer contribute to the moisture in the air by transpiration. Trees have the ability to send their roots deep down into the earth, thus drawing up water into their leaves. Some of this water is lost to the atmosphere through transpiration.
B: trees can break the wind, especially when they are located on high ground. By breaking the wind, they can make the moisture-laden are concentrate and condensate, thereby causing precipitation.
Climate change is the noticeable difference in natural phenomena, including rainfall, which is seen to be occurring at an accelerated pace in recent years. Climate change, a major cause of drought in Africa, refers to long term changes that are occurring all over the earth. In Africa, climate change is evident in disruption of weather patterns; lack of rainfall, or too much rainfall. Climate change causes drought all over the world, not just in Africa.
Climate change can be traced down to human activity; deforestation, global warming, our dependency on fossil fuels, and many other things have been attributed to contributing to climate change.
Due to the depletion in the ozone layer, there is an ever-increasing rise in atmospheric temperature in certain places. Countries that experience little rainfall have an even greater scarcity of rainfall. The increasing rate of evaporation from the soil and vegetation leads to drought in Africa.
6. Diverting Lakes and Rivers
Human beings have developed the terrible habit of diverting water bodies because of some short term gains that they hope to achieve. What they fail to realize is that this action can have terrible long term effects on the environment. Some effects of diverting lakes can be drought.
Water bodies contribute to the environment by providing water into the air through evaporation. When this water is no longer available, it will disrupt the water cycle of the particular area, as the moisture-laden air which is supposed to be carried down to the plains will no longer be available.
When the moisture-laden air is no longer available, that means there will be very little, or no rainfall at all.
Conflict is another major causes of droughts in Africa, there are places in Africa that are at war experience drought. This is because the government is more concerned with the allocation of scarce resources for military purposes. In times of conflict, the welfare of the citizens is often relegated to the background with an increase in the destruction of the environment.
8. Over Grazing And Over Population
when cattle graze on a particular land excessively, it is called overgrazing. Overgrazing can lead to soil becoming too compact. Also due to overpopulation, not enough land is available for farming. This leads to excessive farming. The soil begins to lose its moisture and, over time, being unable to support plant growth.
In areas where there is a scarcity of rainfall, drought is brought about when farmers have an increased dependence on water to grow their crops. This leads to the excessive use of the little water available.
Poor government policies could result in the causes of droughts in Africa. There are not many policies in place to support water conservation and hence mitigate against drought in some countries in Africa.
Closing On The Causes Of Drought In Africa
On the African continent, there is very little development, and the reliance on agriculture for survival is very high. The vast majority of the population of the people are vulnerable to shocks of the weather such as reduced rainfall, or outright drought. That is why it is especially important that we study drought so as to avoid it, or at least cushion its effects.
Sometimes drought can be caused by natural phenomenon, but other times it can also be caused by human activity. Whether caused by human activity, or by natural causes, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the effects, thus sustaining natural life, as well as social and economic activity.